29 April 2004
UNISON calls on Executive to abandon new criminal justice quango
UNISONScotland, the public services union, today called on the
Executive and MSP's to abandon the idea of creating a new criminal
justice quango by merging the Prison Service and social work criminal
In a briefing sent to MSP's, (click
here for full briefing) the union, which represents workers
in the Social Work Criminal Justice services says that many of the
current proposals in the Executive consultation are based on the
idea that sentencing systems alone will reduce re-offending.
In fact, the union says, we need to provide more opportunities
for offenders to move away from law-breaking. This means increasing
properly resourced community-based sentences, and increasing the
integration of agencies working in the community.
Stephen Smellie, Chair of UNISONScotland's Social Work Issues Group
said "Like the Executive we want the emphasis to be on tackling
re-offending. But the creation of a new quango will do nothing to
reduce re-offending. All the evidence from abroad shows that strengthening
the ability to work with people in the community, non-custodial
sentences and probation are more effective in stopping crime. A
new unaccountable body dominated by the Prison Service would be
likely to place a greater emphasis on punishment and custody. He
also points out that social work criminal justice services are delivering.
"Concerns regarding re-offending don't indicate failure of social
work services. Criminal justice teams are successfully addressing
re-offending, and to improve this we need to increase the resources
available to them and more closely integrate them with other local
government services like social work, housing, education and community
services - not rip them out of local government altogether."
The union also believes that the cost and disruption of another
unelected quango will remove more services from local control, divert
attention from the need to reduce re-offending and make it more
difficult to achieve the Executive's aim.
For Further Information Please Contact: Stephen Smellie
(Chair - Soc Wk Issues Group) 01698 454690(o) 07740 096 864(m) Chris
Bartter (Communications Officer): 0870 7777006(o) 07715 583 729(m)